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Northwestern creates new office for low-income, first-generation students

Tyler Pager, Breaking News Editor

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Northwestern will add a new office this academic year to serve the needs of low-income and first-generation students.

The office, which is named the Center for Student Enrichment Services, is housed within the Department of Campus Inclusion and Community.

Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president for student affairs, said the office was inspired by a group of low-income students who approached her with a document detailing their experiences and needs at NU.

“This office is going to help do outreach with the parents, it’s going to provide coaching, support and leadership training and hopefully resources that can help,” Telles-Irvin told The Daily in June. “Some students don’t have coats. This winter was really hard. Some students would like to be part of Dance Marathon, but they can’t afford the $50 registration fee. That starts to limit your experience here at Northwestern.”

Lesley-Ann Brown, director of the Department of Campus Inclusion and Community, said the center’s creation corresponds to the changing demographic of the student body. There has been an increase of low-income and first-generation students on college campuses nationwide, including NU, she said.

Although the director for the office has not yet been hired, Brown has already identified some goals for the new office. Through focus groups with low-income students, Brown said she learned these students have struggled to build a community and often do not know where to go when they have questions or need support.

“A large part of the director’s role is going to be connecting students with appropriate resources,” she said.

Brown added that the director will also support low-income and first-generation students with issues such as financial aid, leadership training and academic difficulties. She said she hopes the director will be hired shortly and start by the first week of November.

Amanda Walsh, president of NU’s chapter of the Quest Scholars Network, said the office’s compilation of resources for low-income and first-generation students will be its biggest benefit. The office will also serve as a bridge between administrators, faculty and students, she said.

“I think the reason why it is so unbelievably important is simply that low-income and first-generation students don’t have the same needs as other students,” the Communication junior said. “A lot of these students don’t necessarily know what college is like.”

Last year, NU’s chapter of the Quest Scholars Network drew attention to the experiences of low-income students on campus through “NU Class Confessions,” a website that allows students to anonymously share their experiences with different economic backgrounds. The group sponsored “Money Matters,” a week of programming devoted to issues of economic difference.

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Twitter: @tylerpager

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